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The 115 Most Affordable Online DNP Programs

Cost rankings of online DNP programsWhile online DNP programs can be a mildly controversial academic pathway, they are a popular option for students seeking to implement evidence-based practice into their integrative profession. In comparison to a research PhD, doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs are designed for the advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) seeking pinnacle leadership roles in their organization. While a PhD may lead to administrative or research positions, a DNP can lead to working directly with patients, leading teams, and improving healthcare quality directly.

The following list is composed of the most affordable online MSN to DNP programs, which will build upon a registered nurse’s master’s degree in areas such as systems leadership, quality improvement, administration, informatics, and more. While these aspirations can drive you toward annual earnings of over $103,000, the cost of pursuing online DNP programs can be a modifying factor on your academic journey and should be worked out carefully before committing to a program.

Below is our editorially independent list of the 115 “Best Buys” for affordable online DNP programs. GetEducated has compared 235 DNP programs from 163 regionally accredited online schools to create this ranking. The most affordable program, regardless of state residency, is offered by Missouri State University and costs just under $9,000, less than a third of today’s national average.

ARTICLE NAVIGATION: Rankings Table | Career Guide

Average Cost (In-state): ~$31,700
Least Expensive: Missouri State University ~$8,961
Most Expensive: University of San Francisco ~$80,020

Our data-driven research creates a truly reliable system of scientific rankings. There’s no fancy formulas here. We meticulously calculate total full-time tuition—including any fees—for the most accurate total cost. Our rankings cannot be bought, and therefore factually showcase the cheapest online DNP programs. The online degrees listed above the gray dividing line are official 2021 “Best Buys” and cost less than the national average.

Most Affordable Online DNP Programs

RankSchool / DegreeStatePriceNote
1
Missouri State University
(MO)
$8,961.00
All Students
2
University of Central Arkansas
(AR)
$10,400.00
All Students
3
New Mexico State University
(NM)
$11,933.50
$7,250.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
4
Wichita State University
(KS)
$11,976.42
All Students
5
Fort Hays State University
(KS)
$12,000.00
All Students
6
Radford University
(VA)
$12,409.00
$21,382.00
In-State
Out-of-State
7
East Carolina University
(NC)
$13,473.36
$36,676.80
In-State
Out-of-State
8
University of Central Florida
(FL)
$13,747.44
$48,372.24
In-State
Out-of-State
9
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
(TX)
$14,295.00
$35,805.00
In-State
Out-of-State
10
University of Missouri-Columbia
(MO)
$14,751.03
All Students
11
University of Missouri-Columbia
(MO)
$14,969.13
All Students
12
Georgia Southern University
(GA)
$15,263.00
All Students
13
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
(OK)
$15,374.50
$24,772.50
In-State
Out-of-State
14
Alcorn State University
(MS)
$15,560.00
All Students
15
University of Missouri-Columbia
(MO)
$15,587.35
All Students
16
University of North Georgia
(GA)
$15,750.00
All Students
17
Florida International University
(FL)
$16,403.04
$36,060.84
In-State
Out-of-State
18
University of Nevada - Reno
(NV)
$16,472.50
$21,827.50
In-State
Out-of-State
19
Pittsburg State University
(KS)
$16,672.00
All Students
20
The University of Alabama
(AL)
$16,800.00
All Students
21
Indiana State University
(IN)
$17,264.00
$22,256.00
In-State
Out-of-State
22
Illinois State University
(IL)
$17,386.58
$32,166.72
In-State
Out-of-State
23
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
(LA)
$18,050.00
$7,296.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
24
Arkansas State University
(AR)
$18,075.00
All Students
25
James Madison University
(VA)
$18,259.00
$40,951.00
In-State
Out-of-State
26
Idaho State University
(ID)
$18,408.00
All Students
27
University of Southern Mississippi
(MS)
$18,472.00
All Students
28
Kent State University
(OH)
$18,632.00
$18,972.00
In-State
Out-of-State
29
University of Alabama in Huntsville
(AL)
$18,720.00
All Students
29
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
(LA)
$18,720.00
All Students
31
The University of Texas at Tyler
(TX)
$18,973.50
$37,732.50
In-State
Out-of-State
32
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
(LA)
$19,000.00
$7,296.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
33
University of Massachusetts-Lowell
(MA)
$19,095.00
All Students
34
East Tennessee State University
(TN)
$19,232.00
$25,632.00
In-State
Out-of-State
35
Troy University
(AL)
$19,250.00
All Students
36
The University of Texas Medical Branch
(TX)
$19,504.09
$36,519.09
In-State
Out-of-State
37
McKendree University
(IL)
$19,800.00
All Students
37
The University of Texas at Arlington
(TX)
$19,800.00
All Students
39
Frontier Nursing University
(KY)
$19,865.00
All Students
40
Northern Arizona University
(AZ)
$20,015.00
All Students
41
Northern Kentucky University
(KY)
$20,510.00
All Students
42
University of Southern Indiana
(IN)
$20,949.48
$22,029.48
In-State
Out-of-State
43
Old Dominion University
(VA)
$20,971.00
$22,555.00
In-State
Out-of-State
44
Jacksonville State University
(AL)
$21,000.00
All Students
45
University of Missouri-Kansas City
(MO)
$21,070.70
$38,260.20
In-State
Out-of-State
46
University of Massachusetts-Boston
(MA)
$21,090.00
All Students
47
University of Michigan-Flint
(MI)
$21,244.00
$31,121.00
In-State
Out-of-State
48
Morningside College
(IA)
$21,402.00
All Students
49
University of Iowa
(IA)
$21,407.50
All Students
50
University of Detroit Mercy
(MI)
$21,525.00
All Students
51
Wilmington University
(DE)
$21,551.00
All Students
52
Eastern Kentucky University
(KY)
$21,600.00
All Students
53
University of Arkansas
(AR)
$21,618.80
All Students
54
Colorado Christian University
(CO)
$22,063.00
All Students
55
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
(IL)
$22,596.00
All Students
56
University of South Alabama
(AL)
$22,734.00
All Students
57
Murray State University
(KY)
$22,758.00
All Students
58
The University of Tennessee - Chattanooga
(TN)
$23,007.00
$24,699.00
In-State
Out-of-State
59
Michigan State University
(MI)
$23,570.00
$24,270.00
In-State
Out-of-State
60
West Virginia University
(WV)
$23,595.00
$52,899.00
In-State
Out-of-State
61
University of Missouri-Columbia
(MO)
$23,683.85
All Students
62
University of Colorado - Colorado Springs
(CO)
$23,713.80
$26,952.75
In-State
Out-of-State
63
Bloomsburg University
(PA)
$23,791.00
$33,988.00
In-State
Out-of-State
64
Lewis University
(IL)
$24,190.00
All Students
65
Ashland University
(OH)
$24,320.00
All Students
66
University of Indianapolis
(IN)
$24,326.00
All Students
67
University of South Alabama
(AL)
$24,516.00
All Students
68
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
(WI)
$24,556.20
All Students
69
University of North Florida
(FL)
$24,863.04
$73,085.76
In-State
Out-of-State
70
Concordia University Wisconsin & Ann Arbor
(WI)
$25,400.00
All Students
71
Liberty University
(VA)
$25,490.00
$12,400.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
72
University of Colorado Denver
(CO)
$25,710.00
$40,568.00
In-State
Out-of-State
73
Indiana University Online
(IN)
$25,900.00
All Students
74
Touro University Nevada
(NV)
$26,000.00
All Students
75
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
(WI)
$26,180.00
All Students
76
North Park University
(IL)
$26,715.00
All Students
77
Clarkson College
(NE)
$27,194.00
All Students
78
Ferris State University
(MI)
$27,288.00
All Students
79
Chatham University
(PA)
$27,459.00
All Students
80
University of Missouri-St Louis
(MO)
$27,611.10
$52,182.90
In-State
Out-of-State
81
Virginia Commonwealth University
(VA)
$27,630.00
All Students
82
University of Mobile
(AL)
$27,740.00
All Students
83
Nebraska Methodist College
(NE)
$27,922.00
All Students
84
Mount Carmel College of Nursing
(OH)
$28,084.00
All Students
85
University of Northern Colorado
(CO)
$28,160.00
All Students
86
Lincoln Memorial University
(TN)
$28,389.00
All Students
87
Barnes-Jewish College Goldfarb School of Nursing
(MO)
$28,805.00
All Students
88
Thomas Edison State University
(NJ)
$29,026.00
All Students
89
The College of Saint Scholastica
(MN)
$29,168.00
All Students
90
Graceland University
(IA)
$29,214.00
All Students
91
Grand Canyon University
(AZ)
$29,255.00
$26,232.50
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
92
Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing
(IL)
$29,285.00
All Students
93
Creighton University
(NE)
$29,298.00
All Students
94
Wilmington University
(DE)
$29,340.00
All Students
95
Oakland University
(MI)
$29,450.00
All Students
96
Messiah University
(PA)
$29,580.00
All Students
97
Spring Arbor University
(MI)
$29,667.00
All Students
98
Regis University
(CO)
$29,760.00
All Students
99
Lourdes University
(OH)
$29,850.00
All Students
100
Boise State University
(ID)
$30,000.00
All Students
101
Washburn University
(KS)
$30,008.00
All Students
102
Gonzaga University
(WA)
$30,060.00
All Students
103
Allen College
(IA)
$30,076.00
All Students
104
Carlow University
(PA)
$30,350.00
All Students
105
Nova Southeastern University
(FL)
$30,470.00
All Students
106
Shenandoah University
(VA)
$30,580.00
All Students
107
Wilkes University
(PA)
$30,720.00
All Students
108
University of North Dakota
(ND)
$30,833.28
All Students
109
Edgewood College
(WI)
$30,960.00
All Students
110
Indiana Wesleyan University
(IN)
$31,000.00
All Students
111
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville
(TN)
$31,175.00
$34,025.00
In-State
Out-of-State
112
Bethel University - MN
(MN)
$31,500.00
All Students
113
Purdue University Global
(IN)
$31,567.50
$35,075.00
$27,880.00
In-State
Out-of-State
Military
114
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
(MA)
$31,647.00
$63,858.00
In-State
Out-of-State
115
Rivier University
(NH)
$31,700.00
All Students
NOTE: The following schools did not make our Best Buy ranking but are also great online options.
School / DegreeStatePriceNote
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
(PA)
$31,795.75
$32,739.00
In-State
Out-of-State
Regis College
(MA)
$31,800.00
$27,075.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
(IL)
$32,387.60
All Students
Madonna University
(MI)
$32,465.00
All Students
Maryville University
(MO)
$32,976.00
All Students
Chamberlain University
(IL)
$33,030.00
$29,350.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Colorado Technical University
(CO)
$33,042.00
$28,460.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Loyola University New Orleans
(LA)
$33,563.00
All Students
Rush University
(IL)
$33,814.00
All Students
Ursuline College
(OH)
$34,062.00
All Students
Baylor University
(TX)
$34,100.00
All Students
Loyola University Chicago
(IL)
$34,325.00
All Students
Quinnipiac University
(CT)
$34,360.00
All Students
Regis College
(MA)
$34,425.00
$29,306.30
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Ashland University
(OH)
$34,960.00
All Students
Rush University
(IL)
$34,980.00
All Students
University of Arizona
(AZ)
$35,052.50
All Students
Pennsylvania State University
(PA)
$35,112.00
All Students
West Coast University
(CA)
$35,220.00
$30,360.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Northcentral University
(CA)
$35,274.00
$28,696.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Gannon University
(PA)
$35,520.00
All Students
American Sentinel University
(CO)
$35,578.00
$30,808.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Liberty University
(VA)
$35,804.00
$17,500.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Grand Canyon University
(AZ)
$35,885.00
$32,165.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Rush University
(IL)
$36,146.00
All Students
Samford University
(AL)
$36,206.00
All Students
Creighton University
(NE)
$36,270.00
All Students
Gwynedd Mercy University
(PA)
$36,445.00
All Students
MCPHS University
(MA)
$36,450.00
All Students
Bradley University
(IL)
$36,583.00
All Students
Southern Adventist University
(TN)
$36,750.00
All Students
University of Pittsburgh
(PA)
$37,426.00
All Students
La Salle University
(PA)
$37,735.00
All Students
Samuel Merritt University
(CA)
$38,230.00
All Students
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
(IL)
$38,378.00
All Students
Baylor University
(TX)
$39,600.00
All Students
Regis College
(MA)
$39,675.00
$33,768.80
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Alvernia University
(PA)
$40,425.00
All Students
University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences
(CA)
$40,793.00
All Students
Walden University
(MN)
$40,910.00
$34,917.50
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Sacred Heart University
(CT)
$41,225.00
All Students
Abilene Christian University
(TX)
$41,600.00
All Students
Upstate Medical University
(NY)
$42,438.00
$54,158.00
In-State
Out-of-State
Ohio State University
(OH)
$42,660.00
$43,660.00
In-State
Out-of-State
Capella University
(MN)
$42,686.20
$38,526.20
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Simmons College
(MA)
$43,140.00
All Students
Seton Hall University
(NJ)
$43,256.00
All Students
University at Buffalo
(NY)
$43,272.00
$51,696.00
In-State
Out-of-State
Hawaii Pacific University
(HI)
$43,625.00
All Students
Catholic University of America
(DC)
$45,290.00
All Students
Monmouth University
(NJ)
$46,680.00
All Students
University of Wisconsin-Madison
(WI)
$46,797.76
$77,053.44
In-State
Out-of-State
Drexel University
(PA)
$46,845.00
$35,145.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions
(UT)
$47,155.00
All Students
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville
(TN)
$47,525.00
$51,950.00
In-State
Out-of-State
University of Arizona
(AZ)
$50,075.00
All Students
The George Washington University
(DC)
$50,360.00
All Students
Thomas Jefferson University
(PA)
$50,732.00
All Students
Duquesne University
(PA)
$52,815.00
All Students
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
(WI)
$53,205.10
All Students
Texas Christian University
(TX)
$55,000.00
All Students
The George Washington University
(DC)
$58,765.00
All Students
The George Washington University
(DC)
$60,160.00
All Students
University of Pennsylvania
(PA)
$60,400.00
All Students
Maryville University
(MO)
$61,689.00
All Students
University of San Francisco
(CA)
$62,660.00
All Students
MGH Institute of Health Professions
(MA)
$62,900.00
All Students
Maryville University
(MO)
$64,380.00
All Students
Duke University
(NC)
$65,080.00
All Students
University of Pennsylvania
(PA)
$66,440.00
All Students
Georgetown University
(DC)
$66,520.00
All Students
Maryville University
(MO)
$67,746.00
All Students
Maryville University
(MO)
$70,437.00
All Students
Johns Hopkins University
(MD)
$73,500.00
All Students
Andrews University
(MI)
$75,712.00
All Students
University of San Francisco
(CA)
$80,020.00
All Students

Accreditation & Program Notes

To qualify for a ranking, a program must be regionally accredited. Additional programmatic accreditation is noted in the rank table.

 8   Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
10   Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
12   State Restriction Note: This program is only available in fewer than 15 states.
14   Program is no longer accepting new students.

Rankings Note

These online college rankings are based on a GetEducated Spring 2021 review of regionally accredited online DNP programs. Total cost includes full-time tuition and fees and was valid at the time of collection and specific to the online learning program. School profiles for the online doctorate degree programs in our directory may reflect a slightly different cost based on different editorial update schedules.

The published cost is an estimated sticker price for the entire online degree including fees. Actual costs may vary by student. Factors such as transfer credits, prerequisite courses, professional licensing and financial aid availability will affect final cost

Editorial Note

Online schools do NOT pay to be included in any GetEducated online degree ranking. These rankings are editorially independent, open to any regionally accredited or candidate college that offers a doctorate degree that is available at least 80 percent through online learning and that is open to enrollment by the public. If your online college is regionally accredited and not currently reviewed by GetEducated, please contact us for inclusion.

These rankings of the cheapest online schools for nursing may NOT be re-posted online or reprinted in any format without a license from GetEducated ®. Consumer finance bloggers and writers can contact our editors for a free custom article on the best online DNP programs for use on your website. Our mission: Help consumers GetEducated ® about the best online colleges for cost and credibility.

Online DNP Programs Career Guide

Online DNP programs are designed to create leaders in the healthcare industry. Giving students a higher level of medical knowledge, an advanced understanding of management in healthcare, and a deep appreciation for strong healthcare policy, DNP graduates have the right skills to lead the healthcare industry forward.

Online MSN to DNP programs are great for people who already have master’s degrees and are working in the healthcare profession, but want to expand their careers into higher roles, especially leadership and management roles. DNP online programs require dedication and commitment, but they can also help you launch a world-class healthcare career.

What are Online DNP Programs?

While completing a DNP does not make you a physician, it is a doctorate-level degree that qualifies you as a “doctor” in the academic sense, although you are not a Ph.D. holder like physicians.

A DNP is different from a Ph.D. education in a variety of aspects. Most notably, it is less focused on the research of medicine and healthcare, and more focused on nursing and direct administration of care.

The classes and curriculum of a DNP program generally build on two components. The first is building your foundational outcome competencies, the second is specialty competencies. Essentially, the first builds your overall healthcare skills and knowledge, while the second focuses on a specific area, such as management, health policy, professional leadership, or nursing information.

While many healthcare and medical degrees take a close look at the science of health and wellbeing, such as anatomy and chemistry, a DNP generally takes a high-level approach, focusing on issues like evaluating healthcare practices and using evidence-based research to improve medical outcomes. Classes may include effective leadership, data-driven healthcare changes, and budget planning for hospitals.

Again, a DNP does not make you a physician, but instead gives you doctorate-level training in nursing. This may seem like splitting hairs, but it’s an important difference.

For most people completing an online degree, the career outcome would be taking on a job as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), which includes nurse practitioner, certified midwife, and other nursing roles.

However, this degree also prepares you for leadership roles in the healthcare setting, roles such as…

Chief Nursing Officer

  • Median Salary: $104,690 (All executives)
  • Job Growth: 4% (All executives)
  • Education: Bachelor’s
  • Training/Work Experience: 5 years experience

A chief nursing officer, who would benefit from online DNP programs, holds an important role in healthcare. This is a top nursing management position that requires several years of medical experience, as well as an education in leadership and organization. While the listed job growth for all corporate executives is 4%, it’s reasonable to assume that with the growth of healthcare needs, there will also be a growing need for chief nursing officers.

Nurse Anesthetist

  • Median Salary: $174,790
  • Job Growth: 14%
  • Education: Master’s
  • Training/Work Experience: None

These professionals are responsible for administering anesthesia, which needs to be delivered with care and caution. For this reason, nurse anesthetists are highly trained and well paid. While it’s always possible to find work as a nurse anesthetist with a master’s degree, a DNP program will increase you knowledge of the profession while making you a more attractive job candidate to potential employers.

Licensing, Certification & Experience Requirements

Licensing and certification will depend on the specific job you hold. In most cases, however, if you are working directly with a patient in a healthcare profession after completing online DNP programs, you will need to be certified through the proper body.

For a nurse anesthetist, for example, you will need to be certified through the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA), an organization that offers the National Certification Examination (NCE). Nurse anesthetists will need to routinely re-certify through the Continued Professional Certification (CPC) Program.

A chief nursing officer, however, will not need to be licensed, as they are generally guiding nurses but not working directly with patients. But to work in this profession, you likely needed experience as a registered nurse or an advanced-practice nurse; for those careers you would have needed proper certifications. So you would have, essentially, needed certification in the past in order to move forward in this profession.

DNP programs online are prefect for experienced healthcare professionals who want to advance their career to the next level. If you are especially interested in leadership roles within a healthcare setting, they could be the ideal option for your future. The course work is rigorous, but it could be the stepping stone to more advanced, fulfilling work in the nursing profession.